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This page was last updated Tuesday, 07-Jan-2014 19:43:36 MST
Submitted by Judy Hardy:
I've been sorting through stuff left behind by our disbanded historical society and came across some old newspaper articles written by the old pioneers of Stanton about 1935. In them they tell about what Stanton was like back in the 1870's. I'm retyping them as the newspapers are pretty yellow and brittle. These articles appeared in the old Stanton Clipper Herald and are full of interesting data, not to mention names of those living in Stanton at the time. They vary from details of what Stanton looked like to memories of the pioneers when they were just children living in Stanton.
EARLY DAYS IN STANTON - Interesting Stories About This Location As Told By Some of the Early Settlers. (These articles appeared in the Stanton Clipper Herald about 1935)
As you have walked along Main Street, have you ever wondered what it looked like years ago when Stanton was a new town cut out of the big pinewoods? John Hartman came to Stanton as an eleven year-old boy in 1871 and has a vivid recollection of the town as it was then and later also. He, with the assistance of Fred Moffatt, who came here in 1865, at the age of seven, has written for us a history of Main Street entirely from memory. To some of us who cannot remember for fifteen minutes where we last put down our specs or hid our pocketbook, this seems like quite a feat. This week we will travel with him along the south side of Main Street and next week along the north side. How many of the stores and shops he mentions can you recall?
In the year of 1868 my father moved his lumber mill from Clinton county, on the D. & M. railroad, where he had been cutting hardwood lumber, to Sidney Center. In the fall of 1871 (the year of the Chicago fire), he sold his mill at Sidney and moved to Stanton, and there built a mill one mile east of town for the manufacture of lumber and shingles, for A.B. Long, Blackman and Galoway.
At this time they were digging stumps out of Main Street and had no such thing as a stump puller. Here I met Fred E. Moffatt, who was going to school at the same time I was. Mr. Moffatt and myself played together in a band for many years. We are attempting to give a description of Main Street in Stanton as it was then and up to the present time.
On the south side of Main Street, on the north side of the cemetery, it was all trees, and about the year 1874 a fire broke out in this swamp and burned for two years, burning out most of the large trees. The road to the cemetery went straight up the hill and plenty of times the pallbearers had to unload and help push the hearse up the hill.
William and Nelson Tunner were just building the two houses now occupied by Glen Gardner and Eugene Straight. Between the Turner house and the court house grounds was a deep hole about fifty feet across and eighteen to twenty feet deep, which was filled with logs and shingle bolts from Harry Wales shingle mill located across the road, where Crawford’s barn is now.
The first court house was a wooden building, just west of where the present one is located. Later a square brick building, one story high, was built where the present court house stands, and contained four offices, one in each corner. The grounds were not as high as they are now. I remember that they used the front lawn for baseball and circuses. In the year 1873 G.G. Grady’s circus used the grounds and later another circus. This last one came from the east in the month of May and had a terrible time getting to Stanton. There was so much shade from the pines that the sun could not get to the roads to dry them out. It is a good thing they did not have automobiles like they do now, as some folks would have been trying to straighten the roads by knocking the trees out of the way.
Opposite the court house, and to the east, Col. B. Vaughn had a livery barn. The first building from the corner east of the court house, about where the back end of Dr. Dow’s office is now, was a one-storied house, built and owned by Levi Camburn; here was where the fist baby was born.
The next building was built by F.A. Goldsmith and was one and one-half stories high with a basement half-story. The upper story was used by George Stoneburner as a law office and the basement by Neal Yoche as a candy store. Later the upper story was used by W.J. Fairbanks as a shoe shop, and still later as a laundry; after which it was sold to Hawley and Owens. It now stands on the farm southwest of Stanton.
The next building, where the restaurant is, was built by R.S. Townsend for a saloon; after the fire this present building was built by George Brown for a saloon.
Where the Hotel Montcalm now stands was a two apartment building called the Turner Block; there was a stairway between the two buildings leading to the second story, which Mr. Hawley started a grocery store in the corner building, but after one year Mr. Reynolds sold is interest to William Pratt and after that it was Hawley & Pratt.
At the back end of this building was a log hotel called the Owl’s Nest, as they had placed on top a wooden owl. Later it was remodeled and a nice front built on and it was called the Stanton House. Mr. William Turner remodeled the second story of the Turner Block and put in one of the finest opera houses in this part of the state. I have the drop curtain used in it at my house now, having saved it when the building burned. After the fire this was replaced by the Hotel Montcalm and for some years called the Central House after it was changed to Montcalm.
Across the street, William Stevens built the Stevens Block, two stories high and containing three apartments. The west one was used by R.S. Townsend as a restaurant for a time and the east room by A. Levit, dry goods.
The next building to the east was a log building used by Robert Pakes for a meat market.
After Mr. Turner remodeled the Opera House, Mr. Stevens made his building a four-story structure and made the upper floor into an Opera House. After the Turner building burned, the skating rink, just south of the hotel and across the street, was used as an opera house.
The next building, going east on Main Street, was built by Hawley & Pratt, a three-story building, the ground floor of which was used by Hawley & Pratt for lumbermen’s supplies and drugs. The third story was used by the Masons for a lodge room. The one that was torn down this summer was built by M.A. Bradford and used by him for a novelty store.
The tree stores east of the Hawley building were in what was called the Palace Block.
The building to the west was built by J. Hudson of Ionia and was used by M.E. Fanning for a clothing store. H.W. Rice had a building where the Hawley building stood that burned down several years before. It was used for groceries and Dr. D.A. McLean had a drug store there.
The third building, on the corner, was used by Frank Higgins as a dry goods store. The second story was used as an I.O.O.F. lodge hall until Streling bought the building, at which time they moved across the street to their present location.
A few years after Mr. Frank Higgins left here he became governor of New York state.
The next building across the street, to the east, was Sam Harmon’s shoe store and the next was John Henning’s saloon. Then east of there, where John Smith’s shop is, was a building built by John Henning for a wood-working and blacksmith shop and it was here that the Bush-Gear Buggies and carts were built by Zack Bush. After this building burned Mr. Smith built the brick building where the Farmer’s Oil Station now stands. Across the street from this, where Filkin’s building stands, was a shingle mill built by George F. Case; later James W. Wheeler got the building and manufactured furniture. He made all the furniture in the court house that burned. After Mr. Wheeler left it was used for a cheese and butter factory, and afterwards it was bought by Mr. Filkins and for a long time used as a feed mill. He cleaned the low land of logs and shingle bolts and got a good many cords of wood out of it.
Where the Burgess Elevator now stands George F. Case had a sash factory; the upper story of this, in later years, was a band hall.
The Main Street railroad crossing was about ten feet higher than the level of the road, so there was quite a little hill to climb going over the railroad crossing. The railroad was called then the Detroit, Lansing & Lake Michigan but was later changed to the Detroit, Lansing & Northern.
Turner & Reynolds had a flour mill where the Farmer’s Elevator now stands and did a big business, running day and night.
East, across the railroad, in the next block, was James W. Willett’s sash and blind factory; they also did a big business.
It was thought at one time that Stanton would all be built all the way to the city dump. Several big houses were partly built on the hill but never finished.
HARTMAN TELLS OF EARLY DAYS - Mills Of Early Days In And Around Stanton: How Work Was Done (Taken from an article in the Stanton Clipper Herald, ca 1930’s?)
By request I will try to give a history of the mills around Stanton in a square of twelve miles, the township of Douglass saving very few mills, as most of the timber was cut and taken to Flat river, where river men took it down the river to other points.
In the lumber mills they didn’t need so many men as they did in the shingle mills. The sawyer, the setter and the scaler were the principal men, while in the shingle mills nearly every one had to be a trained man for his part. The sawyer did all the sawing. I will mention one in each branch; Clark Green was a professional sawyer; he worked in a good many mills around Stanton. The filer had to be an expert, as the saws had to be filed just right or they would not work. F.C. Rowley was a filer in several mills. The joiner had to be an expert to handle from 40 to 50 thousand shingles a day. W.C. Hartman was rated as one of the best. He also worked in several different mills. The packer had to be extra good if he made a living at it, for the shingles had to fit in the box just as if laid on a roof, so close that you could hardly find a place where a match could be struck in between the ends at the butts. O.B. Filkins was one of the best; he could pack 40 thousand every day; that would be 160 bunches so you could see he could lose no time; every move had to count - a false move and he would be set back. Also, the bolter had to be onto his job to know where to quarter the blocks so they would mage the most "stars". John and Joe Hardy were experts with the bolting machine and drag saw.
There were three kinds of shingle machines. The Hall machine was the first kind; the saw was perpendicular and the bolts were set upright between two iron jaws. The carriage would run back and forth by a gear that could be regulated for long and short cuts. Then came the Simons machine and the Perkins machine. The saws in these machines were run horizontally with a carriage over the top. The bolts were laid flat in this machine and the sawyer had to push it back and forth like a kraut cutter, each time cutting off a shingle. When the bolt was all cut up except a triangular piece about three inches in thickness the sawyer would remove it and put in a new block. The piece taken out was called a spault and it was used for firewood by the men. The fuel used in the mills was sawdust, of which they had a plenty. It would be conveyed to the fireroom and the fireman would shovel it into the furnace.
The sawyers’ and joiners’ wages were from $1.50 to $2.00 per day. The packer got ten cents a thousand. These were the going wages, but varied some in places. The shingle weavers in each mill were just like one happy family; they would fight for one another at the drop of the hat; they had no unions, but it was just about the same, only stronger.
The logs were brought in length-wise, on a carriage, to the dragsaw, then cut into blocks 16 to 18 inches long, as some shingles were to be of 16-inch length and some contracts were for 18-inch shingles. The block was rolled to the bolter, who would saw the slabs off the sides, then quarter them for the sawyer. Sometimes the blocks were big, then they cut them in eighths. When the shingles were sawed they dropped to the jointer, who sorted the stars from the seconds and jointed both edges smooth. The stars were thrown in one bin and the seconds in another, and the culls in another. You can see the jointer was a busy man all the time.
The mills were run from 6:00 to 6:00 with an hour out for noon. Shingles sold as follows: Stars, $2.00 per thousand; seconds $1.25; culls 60 to 80 cents. The stars were clear with no knots and the seconds had to have no knots within six inches of the butts. The culls were the shingles with knots in the butt ends.
It was not a good thing for a white-collared man, as they called them, to be nosing around the mill, for the first thing he knew a ball of sawdust would hit him on the head, then he would get another as soon as someone could get a chance and then be terribly busy at something, as if he did not know any thing about it. Usually when they got hit once they would go, but the second time they would go in a hurry. The shingle weavers were always playing some joke on each other, but they always took that in good part, it wouldn’t do to get mad because the whole bunch would be against you.
In the winter, when bolting up the blocks, in some of them when cut they would get from a pint to a quart of winged ants about an inch long. They would be frozen stiff - don’t think they had ever seen daylight before. They were greatly relished by the shingle weavers, as they had a sour taste and a fine flavor. In some trees the woodmen would get what they called pine beer. That had a sour and pitchy flavor. Plenty of times there would be logs brought in the mill and drag sawyer would find when cutting off the first block that it was full of punk; then it would be taken right through the mill to the fire pit and burned up with the rest of the rubbish. I believe there has been enough timber burned in Montcalm County to have made shingles enough to roof the whole state of Michigan, and firewood enough burned to supply every family in Montcalm County with fuel for 25 years or more, and they would not have to be very saving at that. In those days timber was of no more value then potatoes are today, but there came a time, as it will with potatoes, when it was different.
John C. Hartman
AN INTERESTING ACCOUNT OF PIONEERING IN DOUGLASS TOWNSHIP
This article by Mrs. Lyman Hunt, R.R. 1, Stanton, appeared in the Stanton Clipper Herald sometime during the year 1935.
In August, 1870, my father came to Douglass township and bought 40 acres of land situated just across the road from the Entrican school house, on what is now the John Clement farm. He went back to Kalamazoo, where we then lived and told my mother he had bought a farm and we would move the next day. They packed all our goods on two wagons and some men drove those through, while mother, my brother and sister and myself rode with Eli Hunt in a two-seated buggy drawn by two horses. Father walked behind and led the cow. It took us two days to make the trip. We stopped at mother’s sister’s and stayed overnight, arriving in Douglass township the next day, about supper time.
We were acquainted with the Aaron Hunt family, who had preceded us here from Kalamazoo about eight years before, so we went there and stayed until the wagons came with our goods. I felt terrible and didn’t want to come, while my sister was delighted that we were going to the "Pinery," as we then called this part of Michigan, having heard so much of the pine forests here. But after we arrived I liked it here, while my sister was homesick to go back to Kalamazoo.
I went to school in the old log schoolhouse. Miss Foster of Stanton was our teacher and she boarded with Mrs. Aaron Hunt. Miss Vine Carey was our next teacher. Some of my early schoolmates were Agnes and Margaret Aldrich, Dennie Blumbert, Lewis, Drucilla and George Lee, all of whom have passed on beyond.
The Aldrich home was just the other side of the schoolhouse and our was just on this side, and often at recess time Agnes Aldrich and I would go to either her home or mine to visit our mothers’ cookie jars. All the houses then were built of logs. That same fall we moved here they built the first town hall down on the northeast corner of what is now the Frank Mack farm.
The next spring my father tapped the maple trees on his land and he and my mother made 1150 pounds of maple sugar and they gathered all the sap in pails hung on a yoke which they put over their shoulders.
My mother and I went after blackberries, great, large ones. We became so interested in finding such large berries that when we had our pails full we discovered we had lost all track of the trail where we entered the woods. That was on the land now owned by Ed Demorest. We walked and walked, trying to find our way out. We climbed over logs and trees torn out by the roots and fireweed nearly as tall as I was, until I became tired and said I was going to throw my berries away as I was too tired to carry them any farther. I well remember my mother saying, "No, don’t do it, we may have to camp here over night." But after a while we came to a vacated lumber camp and found a road leading out from there. We met my father, who becoming alarmed at our prolonged absence, was out looking for us.
One day that summer Maggie Aldrich (who later became Mrs. John Clement) and I walked to Stanton and took dinner with Mr. and Mrs. Tichener, who formerly owned the land my father bought. On the way home Mr. Butts, who I think was Mr. Lucian Palmer’s grandfather, overtook us with his horses and wagon and we rode to the corner with him.
The first few winters after I was married we ran a lumber camp and one winter I baked sixteen loaves of bread each day. The men used oxen in the woods, but they used horses to draw the logs to Flat river.
In 1874 we bought the farm where I still live and it was all woods. Mr. Hunt cleared a small piece of land and built what we styled our "shanty." It was only 18x18. He later cleared the rest of the land.
Mr. and Mrs. George Carpenter were our nearest neighbors, but you couldn’t see anyone’s house for the woods. Every Saturday night Mrs. Carpenter would come down and stay with me while Mr. Carpenter and Mr. Hunt walked to Westville to get our mail. I wonder what the young people today would think to only get news of the outside world once a week and then walk two miles after it. I once rode to Westville on a "toad" drawn by oxen, to have a tooth pulled.
My father, Nathan Auten, helped mark out the Entrican cemetery and Mr. Entrican was the first person buried in it. The first store in Entrican was owned by Mr. Murray. The first minister after we moved here was Mr. Williams. Aaron Hunt set out the first orchard in Douglass township and Mary Hunt and Jacob Miller were the first people to be married in Douglass township.
EARLY DAYS IN STANTON
By Ella Moffatt
(This article appeared in the December 21, 1934 issue of the Stanton Clipper Herald. The clipping is very tattered and parts of the story are missing, but due to the fact that this issue was missing when the Clipper Herald was microfilmed it was felt that retyping the parts of the story was beneficial to preserve this part of history).
Miss Ella Moffatt came to what is now Stanton, Michigan, as a little girl six years old. She has watched our town grow from a small clearing in the pine forest to what it now is. This is her story for our boys and girls.
My First Sight of Stanton
When I came to Stanton it looked very different from what it does now. At that time tall pine trees grew where our streets, shops and houses are. The trees were so thick that the early settlers had to chop them down in order to have a cleared space for their homes. There were no schools, no churches, few stores, no movies, no telephones, electric lights or cars. That probably sounds to you as if our life was very hard and with little fun in it. We really had many good times and probably were quite as happy then as you are now.
Perhaps you wonder how people ever happened to come here to live. It was like this:
After the Civil War the government told the soldiers they would be given eighty acres of land if they would come here, build a home and live in it for six months. A few at a time they came, built their log cabins in a little clearing in the forest and not only stayed the necessary six months to make good their claims, but remained here to help lay the foundation for our own community.
Other men bought the land from the government for the timber on it. That is what my grandfather did. Our home was in Pennsylvania at that time. First my grandmother and grandfather came here. Two years later my family came, late in October 1866. (this is where some of the story has been torn away and is missing).
We came on ……………….far as Ionia. A man by the name of Ed More …………………….. (several paragraphs missing). Something about trees being removed…far enough away so …….. any were blown down in a bad storm they would not fall on the house. You see the trees were very, very tall.
Our house did not look then as it does now. It was just a small unpainted, story and a half house. Probably you would not think it very good today, but it was quite as good as any here at the time.
Like the other houses, it had no cellar. The land had not been worked enough to loosen and bring up the stones.
We children did not walk upstairs as you do. We climbed up a ladder through a hole in the ceiling to our beds. What fun we youngsters used to have up there, giggling and whispering childish secrets as boys and girls do the world over.
There were probably only a few children here then, probably not more than a dozen. Our parents had received a good education in the east and were not willing that their children should be forced to go without some schooling. Before I came to Stanton Mrs. Levi Camburn had taught seven little children in her own home in the winter of 1864. My first teacher was Mrs. Beers, who taught us for a while each day at her home. She was paid $1.25 each week for this.
There was, however, no one to teach the older boys and girls who were about sixteen and seventeen years old. They were anxious to gain some training so that they might in turn go out to the children in the log cabins and teach them. Those early residents of Stanton were not mere drifting adventurers, but fine, brave, God fearing men and women who wanted to give their children good homes and the right kind of a community in which to grow up.
When Stanton was made the county seat there wasn’t even a cleared space or building for the court house. The trees were cleared away where our court house now stands, and a small frame building was built there. This building also served as the gathering place for all meetings.
A young man by the name of E.K. Wood, who had been a teacher in the east before coming here, had a small store where he sold groceries and drugs. He offered to teach the boys and girls for a few months so that they might learn many things which would be of use to them.
A small two-story, two room schoolhouse was built, facing the west, with a built-on hall at the north and south, a good deal as your school has now.
Here Mr. Wood held school for all the boys and girls much the same as teachers now do in our country schools. When the teacher called us in, the boys went in at the north door and girls at the south door. When we reached our room the boys sat on the north side and the girls on the south side of the room.
The seats were built down to the floor. I was just a little thing in the primer class. I had my little primer reading book but wanted something more to do, so I smuggled my doll things into school with me one day. I had them all arranged on the floor behind my desk and was busy playing with them when suddenly I heard Mr. Wood saying, "Ella, you must not bring your dolly to school with you. If you do, I will have to take it and keep it."
My older sister said that he looked at her and smiled when he discovered me down behind my desk playing with my dolly, but it was all quite a serious matter for me. Children did not have as many toys then as now and the loss of a beloved dolly was something a little girl would not like to have happen. When little children go to school now they find dolls, blocks and other toys and are urged to play with them.
We didn’t have nearly so much schooling as you have. I remember that the first thing Mr. Wood did was to teach us to write. That probably seems not a very important thing to remember, but many of our early settlers had no chance to go to school, as they grew up in the back woods, and were unable to write. When they were asked to sign their names on some paper it was necessary for someone who could write to sign their names and under the names they would make a cross. The was called"…..their mark." (The next paragraph is missing part of the text).
The First Public Entertainment
The next fall the schoolhouse was finished. About this time we had the first public entertainment ever held here. I think it was to raise money for the bell for the schoolhouse. Mrs. Adelaide Turner and Theresa Wood were musicians and they drilled us……..the play "Cinderella" and taught ………the songs to sing between acts. (much of this paragraph is missing major words) I remember ……….a little girl named Net-………..another was Etta Mc……….older sister, and the other little girl was myself. I do not remember the names of the boys.
I do remember, though, that Mrs. Turner wore her wedding dress of pretty silk and looked very lovely.
The schoolhouse was packed to the doors. You see we had no movies or other places of entertainment as you have and it seemed good for us to get together in our little schoolhouse among the tall pine trees. As we walked through the woods in the moonlight we could see the glimmer of the oil lamps in the schoolhouse windows.
Simple as this entertainment was, it was, just the same, quite a social event in our lives. After all these years I remember it distinctly.
Soon after Mr. Wood finished his term of school he went into the lumber business and became very rich. But he did not forget Stanton, for the statue of George Washington which stands in the lower hall was presented to the school by Mr. Wood.
Perhaps you have been wondering if there were Indians near us and if they were friendly. The children were shy of the Indians and did not see them very often, but wherever we did meet them the Indians were friendly and in passing our homes would call out what sounded like "Basoo." They meant "how-do-you-do?" Quite often we would see them in the woods when we went berry picking. It seemed strange to see the baby tied to the squaw’s back. Sometimes the Indian mother would make a hammock of pieces of birch bark and swing it between the trees with the baby in it.
Sometimes we caught glimpses of their wigwams among the trees, but we had heard so many Indian stories we were quite willing to let them alone. As the trees were cut down the Indians moved farther back into the woods and we did not see them so often.
Growth of Stanton
The next year or so rich men from the east came here, bought land, put up saw mills and then the town grew rapidly until finally two thousand people were living here or working in the lumber camps. This growth brought many benefits to the little group of people who had been facing hardships so bravely.
Doctors came with the lumber camps. Before this we had to be our own doctors. My Grandmother Moffatt and another grandmother, Mrs. P. Meach, had unusual skill in caring for the sick and were of great help to the young mothers so lately come from their homes in the east, where it was easy to secure a doctor for their families when needed.
We had no cows and so the babies had no milk. I cannot remember a single little baby who lived through its second summer. If the parents owned the land where they lived, the baby was buried in their yard. If they did not own the land, the baby was buried on the court house square. These little graves were later moved to the cemetery.
So you see, even such a common thing as a cow was a very real blessing to us. With doctors to care for them and good milk to make them strong they had a better chance of living through those first years of childhood.
We had no church. My father, who was an ordained minister when he came here, held services in the courthouse and schoolhouse. Now churches were built and the children could go to Sunday school.
Spaces were cleared for gardens and the seeds which had been brought from the east were planted. I remember that my grandmother planted petunias, portulacas and morning glories about the pine stumps in her yard and how pretty they were.
How Stanton Was Named
And now I think perhaps some of you do not know how Stanton happened to be named. It was first called Fred in honor of Fred Hall of Ionia, who had donated land for the county seat, provided it was located here. But he very modestly declined the honor and suggested that it be named Stanton in honor of Secretary of War Stanton.
There were many lumber mills built and for many years hundreds of men were busy cutting down the valuable pine.
My uncle, Ed Moffatt, came west with us and went into the lumber business. He bought the Morse mill, which stood where the home of Merton Chapman now stands. At that time Colby was solid, uncut pine forest, about 1500 acres of it.
In many ways our life at that time was hard, and yet the people who settled here were of such a sturdy, wholesome character that it wasn’t a bad place at all for boys and girls to grow up.
If our own boys and girls will show the same devotion to those fine principles of right living which our founders showed we need never be ashamed of the name - Stanton.
EARLY DAYS IN STANTON - Brief History of Main Street (As written by John Hartman, assisted by Fred Moffatt, continued from last week)
Our description of Main Street this week starts on the north side of the road, opposite the cemetery.
The first house was built and owned by Gil White. The next one by Grant White; both were mill men. The next one, which was owned by Charlie Tichener, burned down and the present building at the same location is owned by Mrs. Annie Bailey McKuen. The next house, now owned by Mrs. Myrtle Hardy, was built by D. Esterbrook, assisted by his son Clarence.
Across the street, where Mr. McIntosh lives, was a home built by James Gage, and the next one was built and owned by by Dr. A.L. Corey.
There were no more houses until you came to the place just west of where Otto Cummings now lives. There Peter Deyo had a two-storied building, the ground floor of which was used for the manufacture of tin goods and the second floor was used by him and his family for living quarters.
The next house, where Mr. Cummings’ house now stands, was owned by E.R. Powell, who was publisher of the Montcalm Hearld, Stanton’s first newspaper.
The next building, on the corner, was a big three-storied building called the Bailey House. At the back of this, to the north, was a hotel feed barn.
Across the street, going east on the north side of Main Street, was a two-storied building owned by E.R. Powell. The second story was used for his printing office and ground floor for a pool room; in the basement was a saloon run by R.S. Townsend. Part was used by Miss Longacre and Miss Lewis for a millinery shop.
At the back of this building was a blacksmith shop and livery stable owned by John and Elmer Barrow. After the fire in 1880, Mr. Powell built a two-storied building with three fronts. He used the second floor for living rooms and printing office. J.W. Richards had a hardware store on the ground floor. Harry Gale was the tinner.
The next store was a small one-storied building used as a saloon and for other purposes and located where F.M. Stouse’s grocery store now stands. After the fire, Mr. C. Palmer built the present building for a saloon; later he sold out to Dave McBurney. The next building was C.D. Allen’s saloon.
The next building was owned by J.N. Voorhees and was used by him for a furniture and undertaking establishment and was located where the Stanton Hardware Co. now is.
Then there was a two-storied building used by Harm and George Smith for a law office and later by H.R. Wagar had a general lumberman’s supply store there.
The next building was the drug store of Shepard & Bachman. Mr. Shepard replaced the one that burned by the present building occupied by C.E. Utley.
After his first bank burned, Mr. Chapin built the present bank building. When he failed to open the doors the bank was opened by Charlie French, who, much later, sold his interest to a stock company in Stanton.
After the fire, Payne & Sons built the store now occupied by Mr. McIntosh.
The next building was owned by D.M. Gardner and was used for a dry goods and grocery store. Morris Zinkham had a jewelry store on the west side. After that burned Mr. Gardner built the present building, now owned by Stevenson. Mr. Zinkham had the small west room for a jewelry store.
The post office was in the Gardner store. Old Mr. Bradford and D.L. Densmore were the clerks. Then the post office was moved across the street to the back end of the Stevens block, and Mr. C.C. Miller, father of Frank Miller, was postmaster. Then it was moved to the middle room of the hotel and A. Gilbert was postmaster. Next it was moved to where the fruit store is now; S. Perry Youngs, Gideon Hendricks and Fred Moffatt were postmasters while it was there. After that it was moved to where it is now and E.O. Bellows, C.E. Utley and Frank Church have been postmasters there.
Across the street, where Smith Bros. are now, is the building built and owned by George Wallace and used for a grocery store. The next for a drug store. Back of this was a blacksmith shop run by Daniel McFadden and a livery barn run by Mr. Murtey. Mrs. Murtey ran it for a few years after his death, then sold it to John Stewart. After the fire in 1885, Mr. J.W. Weatherwax built the present brick building, now occupied by Smith Bros.
The next was a small building used by I. Lang for a confectionary store. After the fire, M.E. Fanning erected the present building for a clothing store; later J.N. Crusoe bought it and used it for several years as a dry goods store; then Charlie Carothers used it as a grocery store and ice cream parlor and at the present time Ray King has it for the same purpose.
The next building was owned by E.K. Wood. Mr. Wood and Mr. Giles Gilbert sold groceries and drugs. Gilbert later sold out to Thayer.
Then next Mr. John W. S. Pierson & Co. had a hardware store. After the fire Mr. Pierson built the present block, where he sold hardware for a good many years. Even before the roof was on the building Crusoe Bros. leased this block and for several years had a general store there. Later the east store of this block was occupied by Ball & Devine’s general store. The next building was a small building used by J.C. Bradford for a candy store and restaurant, where the theater is now.
In the next building was a bakery owned by Nelson Lunn, and next to this was a vacant lot.
After the fire of 1885 Mr. L. Corey, a lumberman, built the four apartments now owned by Glen Gardner. Pat Cahalan built the present building now occupied by Darnell for a saloon. Then Robert Pakes built the present meat market, run by his grandson, Robert Pakes.
The building on the corner was owned by H.H. Hinds; C.A. Laughlin had a general store there. This building was where the billboard is now. The bakery, now occupied by Bronson, was the next built east of the Pakes building and is part of the Pakes property. Beck & Coote once occupied it.
Across the street was a two-storied building owned by Oscar Fenn and occupied by several different firms; among them were Fenn & Stevenson, Tom Earl, William Thomas, Dr. McLean and some others. There were three other old buildings not much used.
After the fire Mr. L. Corey built the present building now owned by the I.O.O.F. lodge. Then George Holland built the building, now occupied by Dr. Brownridge and used as a cream station, for a bakery.
There were no more buildings until you came about to the east end of Crawford’s lumber yard. There a lumber mill was built by F. Case and later sold to William Stevens. Most all the lumber for the Stevens block was cut there; furthermore, all the lumber that could be carried at all Mr. Stevens carried on his back from this mill to the Stevens block. Later, Mr. Stevens put in a grist mill at the front end of the mill, next to Main Street.
At that time there was quite a town at the depot, several stores and a two-storied hotel where A.D. Newman’s house is now, and run by Mr. McGarry.
Across the railroad from the depot was the William Miner machine shop and foundry, where fifteen or twenty men were employed. Then farther to the east was David Mummery’s boiler shop; Mr. Mummery built a good many boilers there.
North of the depot, at the end of the railroad, was a lumber mill owned by George F. Case. He used to pay his men off with "white horses," as the men called them; there were merely orders on stores, not money.
South of the depot was the D.A. Briant planing mill. This was a big mill and most of the time ran night and day. Across the railroad to the east, on the state road, was a shingle mill and then later a tub and pail factory.
There was a round-house and turntable about where the stockyards are now, for when the engines came from Ionia they had to be turned around to go back to Ionia. There was a switch engine there all the time and it was kept busy.
At one time C.T. Cadwell was a druggist in Hawley & Pratt’s store and S.E. Slade was druggist for Wood & Thayer. They were certainly busy, for medicine was not given out by the doctor as it is here now. If you went to a doctor he would write the prescription and you would get it filled at the drug store.
There has always been a band in Stanton; the first one being called the Silver Cornet Band, and had for its teacher O.E. Davis. After he left the Armstrong family helped out. Then came the boys’ band, which was taught by F.E. Moffatt. Until recent years Mr. Moffatt has either taught in a band or played the baritone horn. Mr. A.D. Amsden, one of the best, if not the best, band director in this part of the state, directed the band here for three years. He was offered too much money, to teach a band in some of the cities, to stay here. Charlie Cadwell played snare drum in all the bands from the first one until he died, and was the best snare drummer ever in Stanton.
Jessie Holcomb was the first night watchman.
In 1881 Stanton was changed from a village to a city. This has been written from memory as far back as sixty years ago; no records have been looked up.
This red brick, two-story double store was built by John W.S. Pierson in 1885. It is one of the best buildings in Stanton, there being nothing spared to make it the best. When it was dedicated the Stanton Band gave a concert. The band was led by A.D. Amsden and was called the Powell Band. In the evening there was a grand ball for invited guests. All had to present invitation cards at the door to be admitted. There was a very large crowd. The basement was used as a kitchen and an oyster supper was served on the first floor. At this time Mr. Pierson’s brother, P.T.H. Pierson, was associtated with him. Mr. Pierson built a big tin shop at the back of this building, and, in front of the Post Office, the Phoenix Block, where for a number of years the north half was used by D.L. McFadden for a blacksmith shop and the south half for farm supplies. Then the iron-clad building north of the Post Office was built for wagons, buggies and large farm implements.
Mr. Pierson built an attractive colonial home in Stanton. He is not like most people who made their money in Stanton. After they helped vote a big bond on the city they packed their grips, took their money and got out, leaving the debt to be paid by those who stayed here. Mr. Pierson has stayed here through it all, made Stanton his home and helped pay the debt left by the ones that helped make it. Mr. Pierson certainly should be congratulated and honored for his faithfulness to Stanton.
EARLY DAYS IN STANTON - Interesting Stories About This Location As Told By Some of the Early Settlers. These articles were started by Mrs. Mary Clifford Smith, the kindergarten teacher, for the interest of her pupils.
Escape Was Easy From the Old Wooden Jail
By Mrs. Harmon Dodson
This story was told to us by Mrs. Harmon Dodson, mother of Faude Dodson. She came to Stanton with her parents in 1871, when 12 years old. Her father, William Faye, had been appointed undersheriff and moved into a house which stood next to Colonel Vaughan’s livery stable and directly east of the present sheriff’s residence. This house is no longer there.
As you have learned from other stories published in this column, Stanton was a pioneer settlement in the midst of the finest stands of pine timber found anywhere in the state. We go about teasing good-natured grandmothers for stories as a small boy teases for cookies and this is one of the stories Mrs. Dodson told us one evening not long ago.
(article appeared in the Stanton Clipper Herald during the year 1935 - exact date unknown).
One winter day my father, who was undersheriff, had to leave my invalid mother and myself alone while he went to hunt a man who was wanted for some crime.
He told me that if he was not back by supper time I would have to carry supper over to the four prisoners at the jail and put it through the "diamond hole." This was the old wooden jail, the first built.
Supper time came and as father had not returned I carried the supper over to the prisoners. Later, when I went over to get the dishes, one knife was missing.
Father had cautioned be to be very careful about the knives for the prisoners could make saws of them and saw their way through the wooden walls. So I questioned the prisoners about the missing knife, but they insisted that I was mistaken about the number which had been brought over with the supper. I knew better, but there was nothing I could do but wait for father’s return and tell him about it. This I did, but by the time he returned, late in the night, it was too late. One prisoner had escaped.
This man was the only one with a long sentence. The other three, who had been given short sentences, chose to stay in jail. From them learned later how the escape was made.
The prisoners had not seem my father all day and when night came and I took them their supper they realized my mother and myself were alone. These circumstances seemed to give him the opportunity he had been hoping for and accordingly he kept out one of the knives and, persuading the other men not to give him away, proceeded to file it into a crude but useable saw.
When I had gotten the dishes I had notice that the men had no fire in the stove and no candles lit. As it was cold and dark I though this very strange and asked them if they had fuel and candles. They replied that they had both but just didn’t want to use them.
Later we were told that they had purposely kept the jail dark so that I would be unable to see where the logs had been sawed under the window. In fact, this one prisoner had a small hole torn out and was just trying to get through it when he heard my approaching footsteps on the snow and so crawled back into the jail and waited until I had returned to my home across the road.
The man was hunted all winter and never found. It seemed probable that he would put many miles between himself and Stanton and so the most intensive part of the search for him was made in the localities as a considerable distance from Stanton. Much to the chagrin of the sheriff’s force, it was later learned he had spent that entire winter within seven miles of the jail.
TRAGEDIES AND PLEASURES IN THE PIONEER LIFE
It seems to me that, next to a grand baby, a grandmother is one of the nicest possessions a real home can have, and if you haven’t a grandmother then go out and find yourself a great aunt. We found one a little while ago that we would like to adopt. She is small, neat and dainty, with twinkly eyes, a kind smile and silver gray hair, and she will be eight-two this January. She is very much alive and up-to-date, I know, for she had one of the smartest fingerwaves I’ve seen in a long time. As she sat there by the big window in the fading light of day with her quilt patches in her lap and her lacy woolen shawl, trimmed in lavender, about her shoulders, she looked dear and sweet and we felt well repaid for our cold tramp through the snow to visit a while with her.
Her name is Mrs. Lucy Brown Graham and when I met her she was visiting her cousin, Mrs. Amelia Dodson. This was not her fist visit to Stanton, for she used to drive over from Crystal quite often when she was a young woman and was living there. Later her parents lived here in the old Burgess home at the foot of cemetery hill and she frequently visited them there. I asked her what it was like here then and to give me some idea she told me the following stories:
By Mrs. Lucy Brown Graham
When we used to drive over from Crystal the road was just a narrow wagon trail through solid pine forests. There was not one single clear tract between Stanton and Crystal.
As you looked about all you could see was dark, green, sweet-smelling pine forests. That is unless you looked straight up above you to the small patch of blue sky. The road between here and Ionia was the same. The woods were full of game and birds. Once when a young man from Stanton was going to Crystal he saw a bear with two cubs picking blackberries alongside the road and eating them.
In later years all this timber was cut except one huge, towering pine tree which stood about three miles east of Stanton. I remember a story about this tree.
As the timber was cut away the blackberry bushes grew in great abundance everywhere. They were big, juicy berries and much enjoyed by the fruit hungry pioneers.
One summer day two women were gathering blackberries when a severe thunder storm came up. They quickly gathered up their baskets of berries and started for home. A neighbor came along with his horses and wagon and gave them a lift. There was a high wind and as they came opposite the huge pine they say it swaying towards them. The farmer whipped up his horses and was just clear of the tree as it fell, but the women, thinking he could not make it, jumped out of the wagon and ran. They should have stayed in the wagon for the tree caught them as it fell and crushed them to death. (Note: this story is similar to the one given about the death of Mrs. Mary A. Carothers and Anna Young - details Mrs. Graham gives are much different than the article that appeared in the Clipper Herald August 3, 1878).
But not all stories of olden days have such a tragic ending.
Langston was one of the main banking grounds for the pine logs hauled from the woods during the winter. They were held in and along Flat river until high water time in the spring and then floated down the river to Greenville, Lowell and Grand Rapids.
During the winter the logs used to be packed so close in the river that people walked back and forth across them.
One spring day a woman who lived near Langston wanted to go to a neighbor’s house or the store, I forget which, and started across the river. She did not know that the day before the log drivers had broken the jam in the river and were only waiting for the sluice gates to open to raise the water still more and to drive the logs down the river to Greenville.
As she crossed the logs some distance from shore she noticed that they were loose and beginning to turn under her feet. Fearing she would slip into the water and be drowned or crushed between the logs, she looked about anxiously for help, but could see no one. In desperation and fear she called for help. In just a jiffy a score of logdrivers, wearing caulked boots and with peavies and canthooks in their hands, rushed out from among the piles of logs where they had been working, ran swiftly and easily over the treacherous logs and carried her to safety.
EARLY DAYS IN STANTON - by Wells Gilbert
Note: Mr. Gilbert is the son of late Mr. and Mrs. Giles Gilbert, pioneer residents of Stanton. Mr. Gilbert was a co-partner with the late E.K. Wood in the milling and merchandise business and operated the large mill at Derby Lake. (Taken from articles that appeared in the Stanton Clipper Herald ca April 1941)
My father told me that there was a strong desire among other towns to move the county seat from Greenville since it was in the southwestern part of the county. Seeing that they were to lose the county seat, they put a measure upon the ballot advocating placing of the county seat upon the geographical center of the county. This was passed and the site was found to be in heavy timber with a small lake on the south and a swamp on the west. The new town was named for Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton.
How did Giles Gilbert happen to go to Stanton? A close friend, Edwin Kleeber Wood, who had been with him in Pike Seminary and in the Civil War, had planned with him to go to Kansas and enter the cattle business. Mr. Wood enroute west visited friends in Saginaw. On a train from Saginaw to Lansing - the State Capitol - Mr. Wood conversed with an elderly man whose business was locating white pine lands and selling descriptions to buyers. Mr. Wood became interested and his investigations resulted I his purchasing some descriptions near Stanton. My father came on in about 1865 and told me that the one story brick court house had been built and stores and houses were being erected. A Mr. Case had built a small mill and Mr. Wood had taken a contract to supply it with logs.
Father’s first task was to relieve Mr. Wood of his task of driving the ox team, while Mr. Wood busied himself with the erection of the store to be occupied by " Wood and Gilbert." Father had never yoked oxen and told me of his difficulties - getting the yolk on one ox and then holding up the other end, hoping the other animal would walk into it, while a crowd of village loafers stood enjoying his predicament.
Stanton was reached by stage from the Detroit, Lansin and Lake Michigan R.R. at Ionia about twenty miles away. Coming in on this stage on a hot day father notice a large handsome well dressed man, on the seat ahead of him, with the driver, take some papers from his pocket and place them on his knees to dry. To his amazement the papers were thousand dollar U.S. bonds. The stranger was a Mr. Ed Moore, who afterwards founded the town of Edmoore north of Stanton. Moore, being the only man at Stanton with capital, was financing contractors building state roads, who received as part payment land scrip which enabled them to acquire pine lands. It was a close political setup and Messrs. Wood and Gilbert in vain tried to get some of these contracts. At last Mr. Moore agreed to finance them. They made a bid and it was accepted but alas, for reasons best known to himself, Mr. Moore found himself short of money.
In his school days, father had attracted the attention of a wealthy farmer, John Helmer, whose beautiful farm house was still standing on the road from the Gilbert farm to Pike, when I motored by there a few years ago. Mr. Helmer had told him when he left for the west to seek his fortune, that if he needed some money later he thought he could let him have a little at 12%.
Faced with a crisis, father walked to Ionia. The stage had gone. He caught a train for Detroit and Buffalo, went to Pike and returned with $10,000. I believe the state road from Stanton to Westville was the one built by Wood and Gilbert and a tract of timber was bought or taken with the script on Derby Lake three miles west of town. This and the money made by the store were the foundation of the fortunes of the two men.
For the first few years father drove to the mill each morning, and spent his evenings working on the account at the store. The panic of ’73 caused plenty of worry but the firm pulled through. Now Mr. Wood suggested to father that each could make as much as the firm and the latter suggested that he make a give or take proposition. Mr. Wood put the mill and timber on one side, the store and a sum of cash on the other. G.G. did not hesitate and took the mill and timber. Mr. Wood later built a mill north of town at Wood’s Mill station and moved to McBrides, where he built a very comfortable house on a farm near by. When the two men went to Stanton they bought half a block of land and built a small house, agreeing that the first to marry should have the house. Mr. Wood was the first to marry. G.G. built a home later on the west lot. Her W.G. was born Aug. 15th, 1870. In 1875, G.G. offered my mother the choice of a new house or a trip to the Philadelphia Fair. We moved into a beautiful new home in 1876.
Continued in the next week’s paper:
This canberry was the habitat of a deadly rattle snake which we called Massasauga or some such name. I thought it was an Indian name but have since learned it is the true scientific name. Once father saw a crowd in the marsh and wading out found it surrounding one of these deadly snakes, and boy offering to bet he could grab it and smap its head off. Father stopped the episode by promptly killing it.
After logging land, father would clear it and make hay fields for his work horses. As a youngster I was driving the wagons from hay cock to hay cock, a man pitching up the hay and the driver stowing it. The latter gave a warning cry as a rattle snake, about three feet long and three inches in diameter fell out of a bunch of hay a few feet from me. As it slid off the hay the man below impaled it on is fork. Thirty years later on the brink of the Klickitate canyon I chased a diamond backed to its lair under a rock and made futile efforts to strike its head with a club, when my Swede cruiser grabbed my club, pulled over the rock and killed it.
There were many Chippewa Indians living near Stanton, fine physical specimens. I can remember driving with my mother and another lady. We were probably driving to Sherman City, where my cousins the Johnsons, lived. There was dense smoke ahead. Suddenly an Indian came running for his life around a curve in the thick timber. The road was narrow. My mother ordered us out, jumped out herself, turned the team and buggy around, and we dashed away as the flames came rushing towards us. She was a find horsewoman and my grandfather, Wells Smith, told me he had a horse which no one dared to ride. While he was away mother bridled it, took it out of the stall and rode it barebacked.
I can remember my first nose bleed and how I thought I was dying and my screams which brought the neighbors running. And I must have been only four when I went to school one day with my aunt Mary, and I am sure I was younger when driving with my parents one eveing the harvest moon came up over Camburn hill, looking as though one could touch it. My father told me it was made of green cheese and I cried because he would not go over and get me a slice. And the day Amy Houser, orphan, came to live with the Woods. It was an event for us boys, Fred and Walter Wood and myself.
Until I was ten years old I would not go alone in the dark. I attribute it to the scares the older boys gave us youngsters. They claimed they had a living skeleton named Jack. They painted a skull and crossbones in a dark attic and would make us climb a ladder and look at it. Once sitting at the foot I told my comrades I did not believe in skeletons and I could lick them with my bare hands. I saw their faces freeze and looking up gave one glance at a terrible figure in a sheet. Then I led the mad race for safety.
Among the hazers was Ned Finch who lived next door in the house afterwards owned by our close friends, the Hawleys. It was his delight to throw garter snakes over the fence at me. Strange that 25 years after, he came to Portland from Aberdeen and made a lot of trouble for me, though in a perfectly legitimate way, over a tract of 5,000 acres I later bought for the Wilson River Lumber Company. Spencer Slade, who came from Wyoming county, N.Y., home of father and Mr. Wood, as well as Mr. Thayer, who was Mrs. Wood’s brother, was drug clerk for Wood & Gilbert, had a large mill when I came to Aberdeen in 1900. Later we sold his half to Clifford Weatherwax, another Stanton boy.
This is a very difficult story I am weaving. A lot of treads are being used to complete the fabric. One of them and a very important one is Higgins. We have seen how chance events have changed the destinies of the older ones of our story and affected the lives of so many who have come after. As I have said, my father and Mr. E.K. Wood were friends at Pike Seminary and with Dr. Sheffield and others walked from Pike to the county seat at Wyoming to enlist in Lincoln’s first call for 75,000 soldiers in the Civil War, in what was called the 17th N.Y. Volunteers.
(Continued in the following paper)
Little things determine the destinies of so many people. The chance meeting of the timber broker by Mr. Wood. The daily sight of a slender, serious, courteous school boy trudging by the farms of old John Helmer, with his books and dinner pail. Mr. Wood and his children and other relatives blazed a trail to Aberdeen and Hoquiam and Bellingham, Washington and to San Francisco, where the E.K. Wood Lumber Co. made millions, and is still a factor in the lumber world. The Gilberts to Duluth and Portland.
The story of Stanton is similar to that of thousands of western towns during the expansion period following the Civil War. Steam was the wonderful agency which operated the factories and railroads. The extension of the railroad from Ionia to Stanton and later north to Big Rapids resulted in many lumber and shingle mills and the settlement of farms as the timber was removed. As I write I can see a picture of Stanton in about 1878. One story stores on Main Street, our home and the Congregational church across the street, the Weatherwax residence, the Catholic church on the hill to the east, and in the background a solid wall of some of the finest white pine timber in the state of Michigan.
Diversions for the older people consisted of shows and dances. The high light was the opening of the Turner Opera House (of brick) by Minnie Maddern (Fisk) "the child actress" in the late seventies. Hi Henry’s Minstrels and thought I was too young to attend the former, I distinctly remember a Civil War play by local talent, in which such young men as Clyde Weatherwax, Sid Smith, Spencer Slade and probably Lloyd Hottenstien and John Whitsell, lounged on a dimly lighted stage around a make believe camp fire, and sang, Tenting To-Night."
There were saloons of course, several of them. I can remember Peg Leg Dave’s. We boys looked upon him with awe and never dared even speak to him as we considered him a close relative of the devil. It seems as though I can remember another saloon man who had an iron hook at the end of one of his arms, instead of a hand, which was very efficient in close fighting.
The Methodists did not play cards or dance. Neither did the Woods or Gilberts. The Bailey House must have been the social center for dances and dinners. The churches played a considerable part. There were four. How well can I remember the Cantata, "Queen Ester", at the Congregational church with Anna Smith and John Smith, the blacksmith, as the stars, and Mr. Crowell, the school principal, as Mordecai. I think Pete Sweeney was poor Haman or at lest anyone doomed to be hanged had our sympathy. Christmas was a church celebration - always a big tree with festoons of strings of popcorn and red and yellow cranberries. One year there was no snow and Santa could not get there, but during the festivities several stalwart young men, with faces blacked, carried in sacks of flour as his gift to Dr. Spellman, the pastor. I remember a Christmas tree at Turner’s Opera House and my father getting a silver watch which was enclosed in countless wrappings, so I think this occasion must have been a civic one.
Fourth of July was the great day of the year. The Stanton Brass Band in which Charley Cadwell and his snare drum was the envy of the boys. The "Horribles", men in masks who brought up the rear of the parade, gave us plenty of thrills. The annual visit of Sells Circus and the fall races at the Fair grounds. I had the first bicycle in town - a little wooden St. Nicholas. Bob Chapin, the first velocepede. Later there were bicycle races at the fair. I tried to enter with Roy Bachman helping my speed by pushing but we were disbarred. A boyhood friend with gray hair came in my office this month of September, and while I did not mention the affair, I thought of a boy’s foot race, round the county fair track, in which this - the smallest boy - came in well ahead of the others, and it was discovered, that finding himself out-distanced, he had cut across the field.
Each summer there were neighborhood picnics. Clifford Lake was the favorite. We piled into family buggies or best of all the Bailey bus. It was a long grind over sandy roads. We walked some of the hills. Arriving there was swimming and wading. All hands watched the preparation of the chowder made of clams and fish and vegetables in a big black kettle.
FORMER BUILDER RELATES GROWTH OF COMMUNITY
SAM HURD TELLS OF ADVANCE AND ADVERSITIES OF NEW TOWN OF STANTON
(This article appeared in the Stanton Clipper Herald in April (year uncertain but possibly 1934 or 35)
In the spring of 1872 John Henning tore down his small blacksmith shop and built a one-story building 30x40 in place of it, and his brother, Tom Henning, was the wagon maker. In the fall of 1872 I built a two-story building a little east of Lew Sterling’s feed barn. The first story was all in one room, 22x80. John and Jim Gogins had a saloon in it. The bar was 30 feet long. It was in that saloon where Jim Hartman’s and Colbrey’s crews had their fights.
Dora Briant blew the shavings from his planing mill into a pit about half-way down to Main Street and burned it in the spring of 1876. It was very dry one day and there was a strong northeast wind; it blew the fire from the pit into William Stevens’ sawmill that was near Main Street and east of the lumber yard, and from there it spread to John Henning’s blacksmith shop, his house and the Gogins Saloon.
Then I built a two-story building 22x40 for John Henning and he had a saloon in it for one year; after that it was used for a number of things, and then Lew Sterling tore it down a few years ago.
John Crippen and Buckelew had a large livery stable and a stage line that carried the mail to Crystal Lake and Elm Hall and a stage line that carried the mail to Millbrook and Mt. Pleasant. Ephram Lagrange and Jim Graham were the stage drivers.
John Crippen and Buckelew built a two-story building 48x30 and George Whitcomb was the blacksmith and Zack Bush the wagon maker. When Crippen and Buckelew sold the livery stabel to Murta they sold the blacksmith shop to John Smith and Peter Sweeney. In the winter and spring of 1885 the Turner block, the Stanton House, George Brown’s saloon and two blocks on the north side from Smith Bros.’ East, were burned.
In the spring and summer of 1885 I built the George Brown saloon and the Smith Bros. Block for Cap Weatherwax.
At that time I used Peter Sweeney’s workshop for a carpenter shop, and one night about the middle of August it burned and I lost three chest of carpenter tools, 30 window and door frames and 2,000 feet of lumber. John Smith always claimed that Bob Leatherby set it afire.
In the fall of 1872 I built a one-story building on the corner where the Montcalm Hotel is for George W. Childs, for a meat market, and he went to Ionia and hired Robert Pakes to cut meat for him. Pakes was a single man then and he boarded at the Bailey House. When the Turner block was built the meat market was moved back south and it is the house that Tom Evans lived in for a good many years.
In the spring of 1872 the Baileys bought the Vinecore Hotel and then it was called the Bailey House. I went there that spring and boarded there four years and built the third story on it. (to be continued)
SAMUEL DAVID HURD HELPED AS CARPENTER TO BUILD CITY OF STANTON
My father and mother’s ancestors came from England to America in Colonial days. My father came from the state of New York to Michigan in 1821, 16 years before it became a state. He was one of the first settlers in Washtenaw county and that was before Ann Arbor was though of. He bought 160 acres of land that had a big growth of timber on it - beech, maple, basswood, yellow poplar and black walnut. He cleared it up and made a farm of it. It was on this farm that I was born on the 31st day of August, 1850.
In my boyhood days I lived in and around Brighton on the old Grand River stage road from Detroit to Lansing, 84 miles long a two-track road, dirt and planks. The planks were oak, four inches thick and 12 feet long. The coaches were large and roomy and 10 persons could ride in one. They were drawn by four horses and the horses were changed every 10 miles. They were driven on a fast trot or gallop, and there was a stage due from each way every hour during the daytime.
On the first of April, 1867, in the village of Brighton, I was apprenticed to Fred Acker for two years to learn the carpenter traid and drafting. In the spring and summer of 1869 I built a barn, 30x40 feet for Jacob Fishbeck on the old stage road one mile west of Howell and a house for John Hubbard on a 1,000 acrea farm one mile east of Howell on the old stage road. In the fall of 1869 I built a two-story building, 22x50, for Fred Westfall in Fowlerville, and in the spring of 1871 I contracted to build a building 22x256 and 12 feet high for Bailey & Robers, which was for drying staves. It was the longest building I ever built.
At that time I met Albert French of Lakeview, who was county treasurer and lived in Stanton. He told me about the great pine forests of Montcalm County and how the towns were building up and advised me to go up there. On the 7th of July, 1871, about 5 o’clock in the afternoon, I got off the train at Greenville and there were three hotel buses standing there, from the Joy House, Cap. Coon Hotel and the Webster House. I went to the Joy House. John Fleming was the owner and manager. I stayed there until the ninth day of August.
In 1875 John Fleming moved to Stanton. His daughter married Peter Sweeney. Ray Fleming was in Stanton a number of years ago and took care of his uncle Harvey Rice until he died.
During the time I was in Greenville I built a small house down near the depot, for Henry Hodges, who was in Greenville at that time, loading and shipping shingles and lumber for the Stanton mills. He told me about Stanton and advised me to go there and finish his house that was partly built. I took the job to finish his house and he gave me letters of introduction to Henry Hinds, I.J. Lucas and David Hodges. He got a man who was hauling shingles and who lived one mile west of Sheridan, to take me to Stanton. We left Greenville Saturday afternoon. The last half of the way was through thick pine woods and when we got to his house it was so dark I could hardly see my hand before my face. As I didn’t care to stay there until Monday morning I went to Sheridan and stayed all night and the next day walked on to Stanton.
On Sunday, the 10th day of August, 1871, about two o’clock, I was standing on Camburn hill and looking down on Stanton. It was surrounded by a gigantic pine forest. I saw men standing in from of Dan Gardner’s store and I went down there and asked them, "Where is the hotel?" They pointed to a log house up on a hill about 125 feet south of Main street and answered: "There is the Owl’s Nest; the Vinecore Hotel is on this side of the street in the next block west." I went to the Vinecore Hotel and ate dinner, and then went back to Dan Gardner’s store. There were more men there then and I asked them, "Where can I find a boarding house?" It was Frank Rowley who said, "Come with me and I will take you to a good one." We went over south of the schoolhouse to Grandpa and Grandma Gage’s, which was the most homelike place I ever boarded at.
A few days later I met Mr. Powell, editor of the Montcalm Herald, on the street and he said, "Is your name Hurd?" "Yes." "What is your father’s name?" "David Hurd." "Did he live near Ann Arbor?" "Yes." "The first money I ever earned was husking corn for your father and when I got married he moved me to Howell, where I started my first paper. In 1868 he came here on horseback on his way to Traverse City. He stayed all night with me, going up and coming back."
It was Sunday afternoon that Mr. Gleason, who was boarding at Gage’s, told me they had made a survey for a railroad from Greenville to Stanton and the surveyors said they went through a big blackberry patch near Stanton. He planned to go there and pick some berries, so we took two pails and went down to Holcomb’s lake and followed the survey line up over the hill, and down the west side we came to a small pond. He told me to go around one way and he would go the other way. We went on, looking for the line, but we didn’t find it, so we started back to the pond, but we never got there. We got into a tamarack swamp and then we got into thick pine woods and it was quite dark when we came to a fence. Gleason said this was Elder Miller’s. We then got back to town.
In the latter part of August there was a Sunday school picnic. Some 20 wagonloads of children, men and women left the Baptist church and wended their way through the woods and over the hills to Derby lake. It was on the south side, about 20 feet above the lake, where we had the picnic. It was a beautiful day in August and we could see the shadows of the tall pine trees down in the lake. After dinner we had some good singing and there was an echo out over the lake and we could hear the singing repeated.
Mrs. Levi Camburn, Mrs. E.K. Wood and Mrs. Hozea Youngs, who were extra good singers, sand some hymns. The chorus of one was "We will all meet on that beautiful shore in the sweet bye and bye." And what I saw and heard that day has been as inspiration to me, for after the silent night there will be an everlasting day and we will all meet on that beautiful shore in the sweet bye and bye.
In November, Grandpa Gage sold his house in town. He owned 20 acres where the late John Campbell lived and there was a log cabin on it, 12x18 and Grandpa and Grandma Gage and I moved into it. John Braun and I built a one-story house, 16x24, then we moved into that.
Mr. Whitman, who lived in Danville, N.Y., owned the land that has been known as the Bill Mathews farm and Albert French had contracted to cut the pine and put it into Dickson (Dickerson) lake. He hired John Braun and I go build the camp. The first day we hauled out a load of lumber with a big "yoke" of oxen that weighed forty hundred and were used for hauling the logs for the camps. We built a board stable for the oxen that day. John Braun and I cut down the first pine tree on that place. It made one log 75 feet long for the kitchen and dining room. We built a bunk house 20x40 and a barn 40x70, and a blacksmith shop 24x30.
Mr. Whitman told the business men of Stanton that he would advance $10,000 to any man that they would recommend to build a planing mill and pay it back planing his lumber. Wood & Gilbert and Albert French advised me to take the contract, but I didn’t care to go in debt that much. James Willett came up from Muir and took the contract.
The Parker Hotel was on the corner where Lew Sterling built a cement building and it was condemned and taken down. It was a two-story building, 48x50. The hotel office was on the corner and there were two store rooms east of it. The first of September I rented one of the store rooms for a carpenter shop. The Parker Hotel burned down in January, 1872, and I lost my carpenter tools.
The first winter I boarded at Grandpa Gage’s John Braun and Henry Speaker lived about forty rods east of Gage’s and they were good neighbors. It was woods all around and we couldn’t see Stanton. Laura, Eva and Minnie Zinkham came out every Sunday to see their grandma.
GHOST TOWNS OF MONTCALM COUNTY
The following is a list of Montcalm County communities no longer in existence and many of the sites are presently unknown. If they had a post office that is indicated by a PO and the date the post office opened. The approximated location of these towns are given, if known, and the township they were located in.
Luther Lincoln, the first white man to settle in Montcalm County, built his cabin and saw mill (he was a mill wright) at the confluence of Black Creek and Flat River in 1839. Subsequently, other mills were built on the river in Section 30 of Montcalm township. One of the largest of these was the Underhill Mill, later owned by Henry Watson. Around Lincoln’s Mill a little settlement started and a post office, the first in Montcalm County was established in 1846 with Lyman H. Platt as the postmaster.
A village of 200 lots was platted but it slowly died out. At first, Lincoln’s Mill was the northern terminus of the stage coach line from Ionia. Later the mail route went on to Big Rapids and to Croton on the Muskegon River. Growth of Greenville and later Gowen (Gregory’s Mill) ended the hamlet of Montcalm and nothing remains now but ghosts of the past.
The Knot Maul story is that in 1860 three brothers, Ellsworth, Uriah and William Stryker, "brought from the woods a most singular growth in the form of the body of a tree. The trunk, which at the base was scarcely more than a foot in diameter, about 15 feet from the ground, suddenly enlarged into a huge knot several feet in diameter, above which it again assumed its normal growth several feet above branch into limbs.
The trunk was severed just above the knot and the contrast rendered more striking by taking the bark from what was intended to represent the handle of a huge maul. When completed it was placed in the ground at the corners where the roads cross in Section 28 (Cato Township and this peculiar sign was at once understood, as it was intended, as a declaration of the Strykers’ principles."
The young men, whose home was at the corners, were strict abolitionists. "The people of the township, heretofore in need of a name for the place which had grown to be of some business importance, began to refer to it as ‘The Knot,’ others as ‘The Maul,’ and the union of the two words being the only natural compromise. It was later chopped down (in a political squabble), raised and hauled down again. It now hangs in a well, in which it was place on some timbers." (the above from Schenck’s 1881 History of Ionia and Montcalm Counties).
At Knot Maul was a steam saw mill, operated by the Stryker brothers, two stores and the Knot Maul Hotel and dining room for the convenience of stage coach passengers, plus other kinds of businesses and a group of houses.
Most, if not all, of our Montcalm County communities began as the location of a saw mill on a steam in the great white pine forest. Usually log cabins and rough shacks sprang up around the mill to house the workers or the logging operations in the woods which supplied it. As soon as possible and as milled lumber became available, the cabins were replaced with frame houses for families. The grist mill, using the same water power as the saw mill, was the next commercial building and this brought in the farmers from the recently stump-cleared and planted areas. Soon a general store, or stores carrying general merchandise of foods, clothing and hardware was built and in business. Then a school with a teacher was needed for the children. Many of the infant communities had a doctor, and a lawyer served the need for legal counseling on land problems and occasional criminal procedures. By then a post office was needed and these remained until the RFD (rural free delivery) service was inaugurated. Other business enterprises were a blacksmith who was a horseshoer and a saloon for the thirsty. In some of the hamlets there was also a place for entertaining travelers with room and board. The early railroads connected some of the villages with larger towns but those far from this improved method of transportation soon shriveled up and died.
RECOLLECTIONS OF PIONEERING DAYS IN DOUGLASS TWP.
PIONEER DAYS OF DOUGLASS TOWNSHIP
In the spring of 1870 my father and mother and I came from Dewitt, Clinton County to Douglass township. My uncle, Charles Blumberg and family, having come earlier, sent for my father and mother to come and work for them. We came on the train from Lansing to Greenville and from there by stage to Langston where my uncle met us. Langston was our nearest post office at that time. There were no laid out roads, the trails following the rivers and branching off to some other settlers. It was one solid body of timber. Hard wood and pine went off Flat river bridges at Entrican. My father helped clear the land. They burned the hard wood timbers, rolling it up in huge log heaps and the pine was banked on Flat river to be floated down the river in the spring. As the last logs were floated down from the head of the river a boat or scow as it was then called, would follow them and us children were always eager to go down and see it and get those wonderful friedcakes that the jolly cook always gave us. All through the woods there were places built up on the trees where the hunters would stand and watch to shoot deer and other game. We had no game wardens in those days.
The mosquitos were so thick that my mother and aunt sewed netting on the men’s hats and it hung down to their shoulders while they were working in the woods. It was a large family that my mother and my aunt had to cook for and do the family sewing for, but she found time to knit stockings and mittens for the family from yarn that my mother spun. I still have the old spinning wheel which was my grandmother’s. Our only near neighbors were the family of John Hummel who lived on what is now known as the Byrum Smith place and the other one was Timothy Schidmore who lived where Bert Smith does at the present time. We attended the school in District No. 1, had to walk over two miles rain or shine. It was a little log building built on the farm of Stephen Aldrich. Our teacher was Miss Foster who had only been over from England a short time. She married Mr. Asa Morse of Stanton later. This school building was used for all kinds of gatherings. Day school and preaching services when we were fortunate to have a minister come here. We had a Sunday school but no Sunday dresses, we wore those that we wore to the day school and our sun bonnets. Every one was happy and no one was striving to dress better than someone else. The following winter my people went in a camp further down the river to cook. There was a long log building made in three parts, one for the men’s bunk house and the kitchen were the work was done and the meals served and the other part our sleeping rooms. Our bedsteads being made of wood or boards not eve planed and a tick of straw. We had tin plates and cups to eat from, and Sunday night we had butter, but other times it was gravy and molasses.
The following spring we returned to our home near Dewitt, coming back several times for my father’s work. He came up to Stanton on the first train that ever came into Stanton about 1875. They decided to make their home in Douglass township and bought the farm across the road from the Thomas Porter farm. There had then been a few more settlers moved in. A road had been laid out and a town hall built on the corner south of the school house of District No. 1 which was later moved to Entrican and now as you pass by Dr. George E. Horn’s you see it as his garage. When used as a town hall and church there were seats all around the sides and benches in the center and a raised platform on the back side. We had ministers from Stanton and Greenville to preach for us. Mr. Frank Miller’s father of Stanton is the only first minister that I can recall to mind now that preached there. About that time a school house had been built west and north of Entrican on the farm now owned by Oscar Johnson. As I recall those days of attending school where I finished my eighth grade, in the winter time the snow was so deep that the boys would have to go ahead and tramp a path for us girls to walk in. Mr. Luce, father of Mrs. Lucian Palmer, kept a hotel at Westville and we young people thought it more of a treat to go there for our Sunday dinners than our young people do now to go to the city.
The road then ran directly east of what is now Entrican, over the Sand Hill to the old state road. The first postoffice was the dwelling house of Albert Entrican who lived where the R.A. Pintler store is now located. My grandfather, Samuel Steele was the first mail carrier, carrying the mail from McBride to Entrican. In the year 1880 the director of what is now District No. 6 came for me to teach their school. They had built a little board building which is now used as a wood shed and garage. Having to have four months of school before they could draw public money, the had by donation of money and labor built the building and raised enough to give me two dollars a week and I had to board around the district. We had no well to be inspected by the state but the water was carried from a spring, across the fields. We had a tin pail and dipper from which all drank. Each township had a school inspector who examined each applicant for school. At that time he was S.G. Tompkins. The people in those days lived very plain but there was always a hearty welcome and everyone was ready to help in sorrow and sickness. The men when in need of groceries for the family would cut wood and draw it to Stanton for .70 a cord and take it in groceries. In those days they drew potatoes to Greenville and got .08 cents a bushel for them, and if anyone had butter or eggs to sell they would take them to Stanton and receive .08 or .10 cents a pound or dozen for them, but it had to be traded out at the store. If men worked out they were paid .75 cents a day and a days work was from sunup to sundown. I often wonder if the young people of today appreciate what the pioneers of this county have done to bring it from a wilderness to a county of beauty for us to enjoy.
I was a subscriber to the Clipper for 35 or 40 years until I left the farm near Entrican nearly two years ago. I don’t know whether you will want to bother with this or not. My daughter sent me the clippings of previous write-ups.
I cannot report as far back as other scribes have done but as I, with the rest of father’s family moved to Douglass Twp. in 1881, I have seen many changes. I cannot write definitely for the south part of the Twp. as my home was one mile north of the center. Where all the good barns now stand, as far as I recall, there were only five at that time. I have attended a number of barn raisings and several logging bees. By the way, there was no evidence of whiskey at any of them. Among my earliest acquaintances were, the late C.D. Blumberg, Jeremiah Bennett whom I first met in Oct., 1880, Joe, L.N. and George Lee, all of whom have passed into the Great Beyond. Of the older generations, those we would call the real pioneers, 35 families have gone to their Long Home. Only one of the school houses built at that time remains in the Twp. All the church services were held in the town hall which then stood on the northeast corner of Section 16. When Entrican was established it was moved there, and later Dr. Danforth bought and moved it where it now serves as Dr. Horn’s garage. We thought we were fortunate when we could get our mail at Westville, but later Albert Entrican succeeded in getting a postoffice at Entrican. There were two families of Entricans living there at that time and I suppose that was what gave the place its name. George Entrican carried the mail from McBride. Later Mrs. Jesse Steele carried the mail and during the winter season encountered many difficulties. The roads I the eighties were far from being gravel. Where people drive today from 35 to 70 miles per hour were then causeways or commonly termed crossways and in the spring in some places the logs would float. One could walk on them but it was not safe to drive over them, not even with an ox team.
In April 1881, my brother-in-law and I were drawing lumber with oxen from Eli Kendal’s mill at Westville to the farm now owned by Jens Jensen. Because of the causeway’s north of Harold Hunt’s and west of the Will Lee’s corner were afloat we had to go a half mile south and then back again. As we reached a point a half mile north of the house, on what was then known as the Aldrich place, we saw a women sitting in a buggy holding the lines, but the horse was unhitched. The logs used on that causeway had rotted out and the roads had not settled and the front wheels of the vehicle had dropped in the mud and the tugs had broken. We helped the woman out of the buggy (she weighed close to 200 pounds) then we lifted the vehicle out of the mud and fixed the harness. She went on her way rejoicing or otherwise. Mrs. Hawkins spoke of Mrs. Aldrich’s geese chasing her. Well, I was not intimidated by Mrs. Aldrich’s geese. I captured one of her daughters. My wife used to often tell of her mother’s experiences in the sixties and early seventies. She often walked miles to care for the sick, or to dress a new arrival. Along about 1880, Dr. Comfort located in McBride and brought comfort to many residents of Douglass and Day Twps. He drove a pair of ponies on a light skeleton buggy. Oh, how those ponies could go, not 50 miles an hour, but they would make the mud or dust fly, according to the season of the year.
One time when father Aldrich was in the war, the family was out of meat, mother went out to get a deer. Deer hunting was a new experience for her. Soon she sighted a beautiful fawn feeding in an opening nearby. She exclaimed, "Oh, you beautiful creature." The deer, hearing her voice, was gone. At another time a bear tried to carry off a pig, she saved the pig, but the bear saved himself.
Someone wrote of pine forests, there was quite a tract of green pine north of Stanton in the early eighties. Tall pine trees close up to what was then called the state road. In thefall of ’83 or ’84 the Wright camps were built on the now Edgar Bennett farm and the pine was hauled on a tram road by a donkey engine to Hemingway and sawed up there. In the summer of 1886 Culter and Savage Co. built camps on what is now Cline farm. That timber was hauled to Flat river also on tram road by donkey engine. The logs were dumped in the river west of the Malich bridge and the way they were piled in there clear across the river one would wonder how they would ever get them started downstream. They did some times use dynamite to break the jam for these logs had to be started before logs from the north could be sent down. It was interesting for us who were not used to that kind of work to watch the river-men wrestle with those logs and put them where they wanted them. On a still day we could hear the click of their peavies quite a distance and now you can’t buy a peavy in the country.
What got my goat was cutting hay and grain with sythe and cradle. I was not used to doing it that way. A few years ago I tried to buy a grain hand rake and was told they did not keep them in stock any more. I bought the last grain cradle H.W. Smith sold at Entrican. Those things, like the lumber peavy, are relics of by-gone days. I doubt if you can find any of them in the catalog.
I well remember a fine piece of beech and maple timber on the farm now owned by George Farrar. George Luther owned it then. He hired two men early in the summer and slashed it all down so as to log and burn it. That timber would be worth more now than the land.
In about 1883 my wife was teaching in a little log school house on the corner of Oscar Johnson’s land. The slope down to the river was rather infested with rattlesnakes. Every few days the scholars would run in saying, "Teacher, teacher, a rattlesnake." She would go out and dispatch the snake and no harm done. Had it been a mouse it would have been vice versa. She taught school 28 terms and at times had pupils 18 to 20 years old. But they were not the ones who made trouble for they came to learn.
Religious services were held I the town hall at an early date when it stood on the corner (one-half mile east of Entrican). Some of the lumberjacks and farmers would come to the service wearing their working clothes. One Sunday a sturdy lumberjack sat half-asleep with one foot perched high on the bench ahead of him, it was clad in sheepskin foot pack, or felt and rubber which was somewhat the worse for wear. The preacher was extorting the people to always put their best foot forward when this foot came down to the floor and its mate took its place on the bench. A young lady whispered to her friend, "I don’t see that this one looks any better than the first." The ladies, (those who could afford them) wore elbow length gloves and skirts which touched the floor. Wedding dresses had long trains. One time as a bride came down the aisle a young lady turned to see who was coming and in doing so pushed one of her long gloves off the end of the seat, it landed on the train and went for a ride down the aisle. The humorous young lady who saw that no improvement was made in the foot, pointed at the remaining glove and said, "Waiting for the next train".
Later the Baptist church was built in Entrican and in 1900 the Methodist church. Some of the preachers who served the community were, my father (James Clement), A.J. Comden, Miller, Sherwood, Gates and Schoonhoven. I cannot remember the name of the first Baptist preacher, but his picture hung on the wall of the church that burned. I think the first Methodist preacher to be stationed at Entrican was Rev. Haney followed by J. Westbrook.
Well, I have rambled around enough. If this is worth only the waste basket there are only a couple of stamps lost.
J.N. Clement, Riverdale, MI
THE STORY OF SAM HURD BUILDING TURNER’S RINK
By Sam Hurd
(This is an article that appeared in the Stanton Clipper Herald - date unknown but possibly around 1934 - 35)
In the first of January 1887, William Turner, a wealthy lumberman, wanted to build a roller skating rink, and he wanted to build it round. He wanted it 100 feet in diameter with outside walls and a center pole in the middle. He made a bargain with Eb Childs and I.O. Chapman, who together owned a photograph gallery, to run the rink, after it was built.
At that time there was a labor organization in Stanton called "Knights of Labor". The lumbermen and businessmen were opposed to them, and for that reason Turner interviewed the three contractors who didn’t belong; namely, Cummins & Brun, Bostick & Baker and Smith & Canfield. They all told him that it couldn’t be built; that it would spread and fall in and be "a regular death trap". As they were all agreed on it, Mr. Turner felt discouraged.
Eb Childs, Chapman and Turner met evenings in the photograph gallery. Eb said: "Sam Hurd will build it for you." "Think so?" replied Turner. "Yes", was the answer? "Well, I will go and see him."
The next day when Eb came and told me about it, it was all news to me. I said, "yes, that’s a pretty difficult thing to do. I will study on it and let you know."
Then I got my draft tools out and made a draft. I divided it into 16 squares, 12’6" to the square and then figured to put a center pole in by having Turner, who had a saw mill, cut the pole from the largest he had, into 16 squares. Then I constructed a platform on top of this center poll and divided into 16 squares and projecting out over the pole 3 feet around. Then after I got the sidewalls up, the ceiling joists on, I built another platform and spiked that to all these ceiling joists. I then built an umbrella-like affair of braces, which made the pole rigid.
So after I had made up my mind that I could do it and make it safe, in the evening I went down to the photograph gallery and met Mr. Turner. He says, "Think you can do it?" I said, "Yes." "How are you going to do it?" I said, "I am not going to tell you how I am going to do it, but I will make you this proposition. That you furnish me everything I call for and I will build it. If the city council won’t condemn it, but if it should, you will lose the material you have wasted in it and I will lose the labor I have put in it."
He said, "Well, you go right ahead."
I felt sure I could build it, so I went ahead. As soon as I started, the news spread. The three contractors who said it couldn’t be built stirred up the people saying we were putting up a building for their boys and girls to be killed in. These contractors would come along in the middle of the forenoon and stand across the street and poke fun at it and there was the usual crowd in the afternoon.
Along about the time we were going to quit, Mr. Turner would come to me and say, "How is it coming?" "I would answer, "I don’t know."
We got it up and roof boards on, and we were using cull shingles which had laid outside and were heavier than shingles kept under a shed. After the crowd had left I told the men, "We will commence on the south side and get it leveled up around and make a big pile right on up so that it tips out with one bunch of shingles."
The ground on the south of the building sloped to the south, so that the floor joists were quite high on that edge of the rink. I got some blocks of wood in there, so that I could chop on them. I said, "Now when Mr. Turner comes, tell him I am inside there." When he came he hollered at me, but I kept on chopping as though I didn’t hear, so he climbed over the joist and came to me. "What do you think?" he asked. "I’m scared, " I replied. "There are 18,000 shingles over our head, and I am trying to prop it up and boys won’t help me." Mr. Turner scrambled to get out.
I had also told the men that while Mr. Turner was in the building with me, they should run down the street in opposite directions and cry, "The skating rink has fallen down and Sam Hurd is under it!" In a very short time the streets were crowded with people along with the contractors who had been watching us and were saying, "Just as we told you". They all looked cheap when they arrived and saw the building erect and me standing in the door. After this occurrence they said no more against it.
For three years the building was used for a skating rink, then as a public hall and later as a theatre or place for medicine shows.
Note - this letter is almost exact as dictated by Mr. Sam Hurd, a gentleman, who is 91 years of age. He also plans to write another story of how he built a theatre for Mr. Turner and which he also wishes to have printed.
Old letter tells of Montcalm County back in days before war.
An old letter written to relatives in Ohio in 1861 by Samuel Gilmore and preserved by descendants gives an interesting glimpse of the Greenville region in that day. Extracts from his letter are as follows:
"As you wanted to know about this county, I will try to tell you. It is a fine county. We have good soil, good water, lakes and rivers, pine and rail timbers in plenty. If you want to buy a farm, this is the place. When I first came here 6 years ago, I bought 40 acres. I sold that and bought 120 and then bought 40 more joining this. Winter wheat is 85 a bushel, rye 37 ½ cents, corn the same, buckwheat the same, pork 5 cents a pound, venison 4 cents, beef 3 to 3 ½ cents.
I must tell you a little about my hunting. I have killed 90 deer, 4 bears, 1 wolf and small game too numerous to mention. I would like to see you out here. You could do well. Government land is 10 shillings per acre, state land can be had for the same, ¼ down and the balance in 10 years. I want to tell you about my luck last fall in hunting bees, found 2 trees with 180 weight each of honey, one with 80 weight and two with 40."
This letter was written by Samuel Gilmore father of Mrs. Sadie Corey
Submitted by Kris ButchartReturn to Top
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